One year ago Chad Kolarik was in the midst of an exhausting and painful rehab following season-ending knee surgery during September training camp. Today Kolarik leads the Connecticut Whale---and is among the league leaders---in goals scored, and has been rewarded for all of his hard work and success with a spot on the Eastern Conference roster for the 2013 AHL All Star Game.
"It definitely means a lot more to me after all I have been through," Kolarik said on Friday morning. "You miss a whole year of hockey because of an ACL tear, and you work so hard and rehab, so this makes it all worth it. The ultimate goal is to make it back to the NHL, but this is a nice first step being named to the AHL All Star Game."
Through 37 games this season Kolarik has a team-high 15 goals and ranks second on the Whale with 30 points---just one behind Kris Newbury. After scoring just two goals through the first 13 games he played this season, Kolarik began to hit his stride after missing the entire 2011-12 campaign by netting six goals over a four-game span in late November, including a Hat Trick against Norfolk on the 24th.
"I believe it was November 17th in Worcester, a Saturday night, I didn't score, but my legs felt good, I hit a couple of posts, probably had seven or eight shots on net, and I felt that this is the way I'm used to playing and how I can play," recalled Kolarik, who will be appearing in his first AHL All Star Game this year despite three previous 20+goal campaigns.
Interestingly Kolarik will celebrate his 27th birthday while in Providence for the AHL All Star Weekend festivities on Saturday the 26th of January. He will be joined by his coach, Ken Gernander, that weekend as Gernander will be inducted into the American Hockey League Hall of Fame.
"It means a lot to share the weekend with (Gernander)," explained Kolarik. "He has always shown faith in me, and I definitely have to thank him for what he's done for my career---especially this year when he could have given up on me when I struggled early. AHL Hall of Fame is a pretty special honor for him, and I am glad to be there for him that weekend."
What do you think of Chad Kolarik's All Star honor, and do you think he will get the chance to make an impact at some point this season with the Rangers? Share your thoughts below.